Matthew Perry wrote that his friend and costar River Phoenix "personified beauty in every way"
The Friends actor died suddenly on Saturday at age 54. In his book Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing published in November 2022, Perry called Phoenix "beautiful" and shared how they became fast friends while making the 1988 movie A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.
Tuesday marks 30 years since Phoenix died on Oct. 31, 1993, from a drug overdose at age 23.
Perry wrote that Phoenix "personified beauty in every way" and that he "made you feel too comfortable to even be jealous of him." Perry said the project was his first job at 17 when they filmed in Chicago — "and the cherry on top of this deeply magical time was that River and I became firm friends."
"River was a beautiful man, inside and out — too beautiful for this world, it turned out. It always seems to be the really talented guys who go down," wrote Perry.
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He also recalled finding out about Phoenix's death, which happened outside the Viper Room nightclub in West Hollywood.
"I heard the screaming from my apartment; went back to bed; woke up to the news," recalled Perry. "After his passing, his mom wrote, in reference to drug use, 'the spirits of [River's] generation are being worn down,' and by then, I was drinking every night. But it would be years before I understood what exactly she meant."
On Tuesday, Phoenix's mom Arlyn “Heart” shared a photo of her late son on Instagram to mark three decades since his death. She wrote that he was a "voice for the voiceless and had the courage to use his celebrity to make a difference."
"Whether it was for human rights, animal rights, women’s rights, racial justice, environmentalism, or any wrong that needed to be righted, he was there," she wrote.
In his memoir, Perry got candid about struggling with alcoholism and addiction while in the spotlight. He told PEOPLE in 2022 why he felt compelled to share his story in the book and help others.
"I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again," he said at the time. "I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people."
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
Matthew Perry's memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is now available wherever books are sold.
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